Buckhorn reacts to rejection of Go Hillsborough

- Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's anger toward several Hillsborough County Commissioners boiled over Thursday morning, a day after the commission voted down a half-cent sales tax referendum.

The tax was part of an initiative known as Go Hillsborough, which aimed to bring in revenue for decades of transportation projects.

"Right now, I would secede from the county if I could," Buckhorn said. "I just don't understand; if we acknowledge that there's a problem, why don't we step up and find the solution?"

If it had passed, the plan would have brought a half-cent per dollar sales tax increase. The extra $117 million a year would have funded road repairs, safety measures, new transit options and routes aimed at alleviating Hillsborough County's chronic congestion.

The plan would have spanned 30-years.

"Had they given us a 30-year option, we could have built a rail system," Buckhorn said. "That was three years worth of work on a problem that we all acknowledge. We spent 40 hours a year sitting in traffic because we have not crafted an adequate solution."

Some of the mayor's comments during the County Commission's meeting the night before drew boos from the crowd, which was largely split over the proposal.

With a 4-3 vote the commission voted against it; Commissioners Sandy Murman, Victor Crist, Stacy White and Al Higginbotham voted "no."

Commissioner White fired back at the mayor.

"We have a responsibility as a board, if we're going to go out to referendum, to put out a plan that is solid, that's been properly vetted and that's not half-baked," he tol FOX 13. "What we ended up with, quite frankly, was a half-baked plan. It didn't have consensus."

White said the board will go back to the drawing board.

"We need to start from Square One again," he said. "I don't think we had a robust enough list of options put before us to choose from, so I'm convinced that we can turn over every possible stone and perhaps have the opportunity to consider maybe some options that have not even yet been considered."

The mayor worries that's a lengthy process that could be devastating to development.

"[Businesses] are not going to come if we don't find a solution for this and the fact that they wouldn't even allow the citizens to vote on this really tells me that that wasn't a profile of courage. That was a profile of cowardice," he said.

County Commissioners are planning on holding their next transportation workshop in May.

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